7 Things to Know About CMMC Compliance

Derek White
Director of Business Development   Cuick trac

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) has been discussed and debated at length. With so many different opinions, it’s challenging to know what you should be doing to comply with its guidelines and requirements.

This CMMC compliance guide will provide an overview of the most critical aspects of CMMC and then offer some practical guidance for your organization.

What is CMMC Compliance?

CMMC is a certification that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) requires for businesses that work with the federal government and handle Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). A CMMC certification helps ensure your organization has the right cybersecurity policies and procedures to protect sensitive data from being hacked or lost. It also ensures you meet compliance requirements set forth by federal agencies such as NASA and the DHS Cyber Security Division.

The CMMC program requires a contractor to undergo an audit and be assessed against a series of cybersecurity best practices. Below are seven things you should know about CMMC.

1. Going Through the CMMC Compliance Process Requires Resources

The CMMC assessment and certification is a slow and gradual process that cannot just be completed overnight. It requires a lot of work and resources from your organization. You can’t simply hire a third-party to complete the process for you.

The CMMC compliance process can take months or even years, depending on your organization’s size and scope. This commitment requires patience and long-term investment from your company and its stakeholders.

2. Compliance Must Be Maintained for The Duration of the Contract

This is because lapses can result in fines or loss of business opportunities. If a contract lasts for two years, then your organization must keep up with all the security guidelines of the CMMC until the end of the contract. If your organization is found to be non-compliant during an audit, then your organization might be penalized.

However, it must be noted that failing an audit is not exactly a death sentence. If you fail the audit, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean your contract with the government is over right away; however, you need to take corrective action and pass the audit next time.

A certified third-party assessor, or the C3PAO, will work with you on finding solutions to your problems and help you pass the audit so that the government can continue working with you. You won’t be disqualified from future contracts because of a failed audit, but you do have to make adjustments.

3. Compliance Relies on Audits Made by Third Parties

Companies that desire to be CMMC-compliant have to undergo a third-party audit of their cybersecurity practices. This is where the C3PAO comes in. These third-party auditors will conduct interviews with employees, review documentation, and conduct on-site assessments. Auditors also help companies identify weaknesses in their systems and work towards improving them before external regulators find out about them.

4. CMMC Compliance Covers Five Levels of Cyber Maturity

The CMMC covers five levels of cyber maturity (L1 to L5), with L1 as the lowest tier. The higher the level, the more sophisticated the cyber security measures and requirements would be.

  • L1 Basic Cyber Hygiene: This requires that your organization have a general awareness of cybersecurity risks and knowledge of basic controls.

  • L2 Intermediate Cyber Hygiene: This means that your organization has implemented additional measures beyond what’s required by law or regulation, such as access control policies and procedures. However, you may not have a sophisticated approach to managing risk across all aspects of the IT infrastructure.

  • L3 Good Cyber Hygiene: This is the minimum level requirement for all healthcare organizations. At this stage, your organization must implement additional procedures for managing sensitive data (e.g., encryption), train employees on how best to protect personal information online and offline, and consistently monitor network activity for signs of suspicious activity.

  • L4 Proactivity: With this, your organization must have implemented controls and proactively monitor and analyze its security posture.

  • L5 Advanced/Progressive Stage: This represents organizations that have achieved advanced or progressive maturity levels through innovation and collaboration across the entire continuum of cybersecurity management best practices.

Leveling up is not required for all organizations. As long as your company can meet the standards that are stated in the contract, then that’s good to go.

5. Companies That Handle Sensitive Data Will Also Need to Comply With CMMC

Private partners and contractors of the DoD are not the only ones that need to comply with CMMC. Companies that handle sensitive data will need to comply with CMMC as well.

Sensitive data includes a wide range of information, including financial details such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and Social Security Numbers. It also includes health care information like medical records, health insurance claims, biometric data, passwords, or other unique identifying characteristics (such as fingerprints).

6. CMMC Compliance Can Help Level the Playing Field in the Public Sector

When you think of government contracts and cybersecurity, two things come to mind: red team alerts and companies that are favored over others. Red team alerts are when a government agency gives a contract to a company that has lower security standards than another company that might have better cybersecurity practices. This means smaller businesses can’t compete with larger ones because they don’t have enough resources or money to meet the requirements set by the agency and other laws.

But with CMMC compliance, all companies can compete on equal terms—they simply have different levels of Risk Mitigation Strategies (RMS) set up for them depending on how much money they want to spend on cybersecurity measures.

7. CMMC Doesn’t Mean You’re Compliant with Other Security Standards

You can be CMMC-certified and not ISO 27001 compliant, or vice versa. CMMC is a set of cybersecurity practices, while ISO 27001 develops its own set of international standards. Compliance with one doesn’t mean you’re automatically compliant with the other.

Wrapping Up

If your organization is planning to work with the government and handle sensitive or classified information, then it’s best to prepare the necessary tools, documents, and processes that you need to implement under the requirements and guidelines set by the CMMC

Remember that to be compliant, your organization must have a plan and follow it. You also need to ensure your employees are aware of the policies so they can stay vigilant and take appropriate action in case of a possible breach.

Derek White

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